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Spring Football Roundtable Round Up

First, I'd like to say thanks everyone who participated in the spring football roundtable. We had a total of 12 blogs participate and the answers were both informative and entertaining. Here are some of the most interesting and educational quotes from the roundtable discussion. To read the bloggers complete answers click the link following their quote.

1. Who are some of the new faces that emerged in the spring who could be serious playmakers for your team this fall?

Offense: For Texas fans, the question is especially relevant in light of the departure of its three top offensive playmakers to the NFL - Jamaal Charles, Jermichael Finley, and Limas Sweed. For the Sooners in the audience, that means Texas lost its top tailback, tight end, and wide receiver from a season ago.

As far as replacements go, I'm not one who believes there's much (if anything) to be learned from spring practice. With the depth chart supposedly wide open, we won't have a good grasp on who might best become a playmaker for Texas in '08 until late August at the earliest. More realistically, we won't know if Texas has a playmaker problem until conference play begins the first week of October. Players I'll frantically be watching for game-changing ability: John Chiles, DeSean Hales, Malcolm Williams, Vondrell McGee, and Foswhitt Whittaker.

Defense: I'm already in love with this Texas defense, both for how it sets up in 2008 and its potential for dominance in '09. The Longhorns will lose Brian Orakpo (DE), Roy Miller (DT), Aaron Lewis (DT), Rashaad Bobino ('MLB'), and Ryan Palmer (CB) after this year. Orakpo and Miller are potential All-Americans this season, but the rest are either already passed on the depth chart or about to be by younger, better players. By 2009, the optimist in me sees Deon Beasley ready to be a Thorpe candidate, the young Wells-Scott-Thomas trio at safety ready to shine, a terrifying (for opposing offenses) Kindle-Norton-Muck linebacking trio, plenty of talent at defensive end, and only one question mark - at DT. - B.O.N.

Surprisingly, the biggest newcomer was a walk-on.  Keithen Valentine rushed for more than 100 yards in the epic, heart-stopping, nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat spring game that ended in a 3-0 White victory.  In all seriousness, Valentine looks like a solid addition at running back, which is welcome after the departure of James Johnson. - Bring on the Cats
The biggest "new" face has to be wide receiver Curenski Gilleylen. It looks like it's easier to spell his name than catch him, as he's got speed to burn. If he can consistently catch the ball, he'll provide a deep threat that's been a rather rare commodity. An old face in a new place would be Cody Glenn, who moved from I-back to linebacker and basically won a starting job. (Of course, that's in part due to the lack of depth at linebacker!) Also making an impression at linebacker is senior walk-on Tyler Wortman, who might have been the star of the spring game on defense. And while he's not a "new" face, since we saw a glimpse of him last fall, Roy Helu is going to challenge Marlon Lucky for serious playing time. That might free up Lucky to line him up elsewhere on the field to take full advantage of his speed. - Husker Mike's Blasphmy

2. What is your biggest concern following the spring?

Left tackle. Rylan Reed, the starting left tackle for all of last year was injured in Texas Tech's bowl game victory against Virginia. The line struggled in the spring and I think the biggest part is that Reed wasn't in his normal spot. If Reed isn't able to come back then offensive line coach Matt Moore will shuffle the offensive line (at the very least moving Luis Vasquez from left guard to left tackle) to make it work, but it would work so much better with Reed in place at left tackle.
I'm also still concerned about the linebacking corp. I have confidence in certain players, but I'm still not sure the group as a whole has the necessary team speed to compete in the wide-open Big 12. This year is going to be a very big year for this relatively young unit. There's lots of options and I believe there will be plenty of opportunity for guys to step up if anyone struggles. - Double T Nation
The defensive front seven.  Injuries and departures not to mention flat out inexperience plagues this bunch.  Not to say they will be an entire liability, but they do need to step up.  If Ndamukong Suh can come back and regain his former glory, that will help immensely along with the addition of incoming linebacker Will Compton who looks to vie for immediate playing time at MIKE. - Corn Nation
My concern ending last season was the lack of experience we have at offensive line. Four months later I'm still highly concerned about that unit. We have one player returning with more than 4 career starts. - T.A.M.B.I.N.P.O.

3.    Any major changes (philosophy, coaching or personnel) that you are concerned about?

No major changes that I have any concern about, just how this team responds to being the hunted rather than the hunter. Mizzou fed off of the "No Respect" card in 2007, and had their most costly loss of the season last year once their opponent could do the same. Last year's team was driven, focused and hungry, thanks primarily to the senior leadership of guys like Martin Rucker, Lorenzo Williams, and Pig Brown. Can guys like Daniel and Weatherspoon keep the intensity, drive and focus in the program? Whether or not they can will go a long way in determining if Mizzou stays nationally relevant into the future. - Rock M Nation
After going 5-7, most NU fans welcome anything new. On offense, things will be pretty consistent with Watson remaining in charge. Though, his brand of ball will be more physical, include some QB run game and more screen passes to wide receivers.
On defense, NU will look a heck of a lot like they did in 2003. This means a 4-3 base, cover 2 zone, and more creative or aggressive blitzes. Not only is Pelini in charge like 2003, but Marvin Sanders is also running the secondary again. You can expect NU defensive backs to be much more willing to play the ball in flight.
The thing that gives us some pause about this staff is recruiting. That was the one thing fans could hang their hat on under Callahan. So, we don't want to see it go away. NU has some good recruiters on staff. We are anxious to see them perform. - Big Red Network
The biggest change over the offseason was the loss of defensive coordinator Bill Young to Miami. However, his replacement, Clint Bowen, was the co-defensive coordinator last season, and rumor has it he actually called the majority of plays throughout the season. So, while there is a new face, the schemes figure to be very similar and there shouldn't be any major change in defensive philosophy.

That would make the change I am most worried about is how we will adjust to the loss of LT Anthony Collins. While we seem to have the athletes and players to compensate for the loss of Aqib Talib, almost every player figured to possibly replace Collins could have really used another year of development. The leader, right now, is freshman Jeff Spikes, with sophomore Ian Wolfe, senior Matt Darton and JUCO transfer Nathan D'Cunha all possible replacements. - Rock Chalk Talk

4.    Looking over the 2008 schedule which home and away game are you most concerned about?

As far as home games go, the one that concerns me the most is Kent State, if for no other reason than it will set the early tone for the season. We really should handle SDSU, but a close game or loss to Kent State would likely spell bad news, while a big win could build momentum.
On the road, the UNLV game has the same effect. We could legitimately be 3-0 or 1-2 heading into Las Vegas. Gene Chizik may not even have a road win yet. The Rebs are still pissed about something, I think. The nonconference slate is very important this year if we're legitimately thinking postseason. - Clone Chronicles
Toughest question on the board. I am going to skip the first 8 because lets face it, 5 of the games concern me and they could lose all 5 play at Missouri, Florida State and Kansas and at home versus Texas and West Virginia. So let's say the Buffs are 3 - 5 or maybe 4 - 4 after 8 games. They will have 4 games remaining to get bowl eligible. I think they beat Texas A&M but it is in College Station so it could go either way. For arguments sake let's say they win. Iowa State should be a W. I am concerned about the last two games of the year as I seem them not only as games which get them into a bowl, but games they must win to keep momentum in Boulder and on the recruiting trail. Losing to the Pokes at home and Nebraska on the road would leave them on the outside looking in. This is truly a question that needs to be revisited after the West Virginia game. - The Ralphie Report

5.    Time for your way too early predictions (Yes, you can change them in August). Rank how you see your division finishing up this coming season.

1) Oklahoma
  1. Texas
  2. Texas Tech
  3. Texas A&M
  4. Oklahoma State
  5. Baylor
The Red Raiders own a three-game win streak over A&M; if they win this year's tussle in College Station, I see them as the next-in-line behind the South Division's top two teams.

Texas' schedule increases in difficulty from a season ago, and though there exist too many quesion marks to pick the 'Horns for the South, I do like Texas to have a solid season, finishing the year a team no one is eager to play in '09. - B.O.N.

o    Oklahoma
o    Texas Tech
o    Texas
o    Texas A&M
o    Oklahoma State
o    Baylor  
- Double T Nation

1.    Mizzou
2.    Kansas
3.    Colorado
4.    Nebraska
5.    Kansas State
6.    Iowa State
- Rock M Nation

1.    Missouri
2.    Kansas
3.    Colorado
4.    Nebraska
5.    Iowa State
6.    Kansas State
Mizzou is clearly the class of the North. Colorado could as easily finish in second or fifth. They were a weird team last year. Kansas State certainly didn't look impressive last year... - Clone Chronicles

Who knows?
Who knows?
Who knows?
Who knows?
Who cares?
- Bring on the Cats

Kansas State
Iowa State
- Corn Nation

Wow...way too early, indeed. Right now, we seem to think NU will be in the top part of the division. We have Missouri pegged at the top for good reason, with NU in the second spot. We have Kansas finishing third right now, followed by Colorado. Kansas State and Iowa State round out the North. - Big Red Network

Kansas :: Kind of a homer pick, but there is no way now, in the hopefulness of April, that I'm not picking us to win the division.

Missouri :: They are probably the most talented team in the North, and the game in Arrowhead will almost certainly decide this division.

Colorado :: I think the Buffs will be really good next year, actually. Not really sure why, just a gut-feeling I guess. And the really good recruiting classes.

Nebraska :: Bo Pelini won't ever be able to recapture the old glory days of Dr. Tom Osborne, but he should improve upon the historic lows of the Bill Callahan era.

Iowa State :: This has more to do with the fact that Ron Prince is the coach down in Manhattan than anything about the Clones.

Kansas State :: Their spring game ended with a score of 3-0. No joke. Seriously, how is this team not going to be in last place come November? Unless all of their JUCOS (I think there are about 398) mesh together quickly, they figure to struggle early. And late, I guess. - Rock Chalk Talk

  1. Missouri - Chase Daniel and Jeremy Maclin...enough said.
  2. Kansas - Its tough for me to think that they can do it again but the way Reesing played last year, its hard to vote against them. They did lose two playmakers at CB and WR. Once again, Kansas plays a cupcake non conference schedule with the exception of South Florida of who tailed off towards the end of the year in 2007.
  3. Colorado - Yes, I think 7 - 5 or 8 - 4 will be good enough to be 3rd in the conference. The Buffs are still 1 - 2 years away from being on the top. Too hard of a schedule this year coupled with a lot of youth at key positions.
  4. Nebraska - The Bo Pelini era will get off to a rough start. Not enough playmakers on either side of the ball to be very competitive.
  5. Kansas State - Are going to need A LOT of JUCO's to pan out.
  6. Iowa State - Did Todd Blythe finally graduate? - The Ralphie Report

  1. Missouri (No duh... with all those players returning from a Top Five squad?)
  2. Nebraska (Call me crazy, but I think Billy C is going to look even more inept this fall...)
  3. Kansas
  4. Colorado (Hawk Love has the Buffs on the move upwards)
  5. Iowa State
  6. Kansas State
- Husker Mike's Blasphemy

Big 12 South will be 1) OU, 2) texas, 3) TAMU, 4) tech, 5) OkSt, 6) Baylor - T.A.M.B.I.N.P.O.